In Michigan, Senator John Kerry, commenting on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, said: "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened." I doubt a President Kerry would have done much to disarm Hezbollah, but, in any event, we do have a strong indication of how a President Kerry would have handled Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Back then Senator Kerry opposed the resolution authorizing force to eject Saddam from Kuwait. He argued on the Senate floor that "time is not on Saddam Hussein's side, but ours. Sanctions cost Iraq much, they cost us little." But after the war ended, we found something unexpected -- a massive nuclear weapons program that had gone undetected by Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency. On August 11, 1991, the Washington Post reported that:
International inspectors . . . unearthed one of the most important--and disturbing--finds of the post-Cold War era: a huge assembly line for the covert manufacture of equipment to make an Iraqi bomb. The location of the sophisticated, secret factory for manufacturing hundreds of uranium gas centrifuges was unknown to any foreign intelligence agency despite intense scrutiny and untouched by five weeks of severe aerial bombardment during the Gulf War that supposedly eviscerated the Iraqi nuclear project. As such, it is a monument to the world's ignorance about what a determined bomb-builder such as Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein can do. The factory was a key component in Iraq's elaborate highly redundant and largely secret network of physics, chemistry and metallurgical laboratories, industrial mines, metalworking factories, electrical power generators, nuclear research reactors and radioactive waste processing sites - all aimed at swiftly putting a nuclear weapon in the hands of one of the world's most ruthless leaders.
The Post also reported just how close Saddam came to getting a nuclear bomb:
Despite repeated warnings and Saddam's own public statements, Western experts consistently underestimated Iraq's scientific and technical capabilities. Inspection officials now believe Iraq was only 12 to 18 months from producing its first bomb, not five to 10 years as previously thought.
Now, it's possible that a President Kerry would have ordered an attack on Iraq in mid-1991. I have my doubts. It's more likely that some sort of phony deal would have been cut, and Saddam would have gone nuclear. We can only speculate what the Middle East would look like today with a nuclear-armed Saddam sitting in Baghdad.
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